Richard Farrell Saved Me

I killed my dad. And then I killed Richard Farrell’s dad.. And then I killed my mom. And then I killed Richard Farrell’s mom. I didn’t blow any of these people away with a gun. Instead, I let them die. I pulled a kitchen chair up next to Richard Farrell and watched him struggle to come up with a tough and gritty narrative. I punched him in the face fifty times, and said, “Live, you bastard! There’s no room for the commonplace! If six of your family members don’t die within the next three days, then there will be no op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, much less a book to promote.” Then I cut off my left hand and began bleeding all over Richard Farrell. Then my left hand grew back. It took a long time, but it was a long night and there was time to kill and plenty of blood in me to let plop on the parquet floor. Then I cut off my right hand and I scattered the blood equally over my parents and Richard Farrell’s parents. I wanted them all to have a taste. And then my right hand grew back. All ten of our hands clutched tightly to their chest. And suddenly, the white in my eyes became flush with the possibility of tall tales mined into memoir.

Why did I do all this? It’s complicated.

You have to understand something about Richard Farrell. I loved the son of a bitch more than anything on the planet. You see, 28 years earlier, Richard Farrell chopped off my four little limbs and put the remainder of my body into a cardboard box. Years later, I would sue Kim Basinger for failing to perform the court-ordered fellatio upon a part of my body that I would refer to as “the first leg.” In my box, I did not move for thirteen years. I was home schooled and asked to memorize every passage in the Bible. I was then asked to memorize every passage in the Qur’an. I was then asked to memorize every line written by L. Ron Hubbard. Richard Farrell, who became both his own father and my father, was my educator and he forced me to eat lots of fiber. When I brayed for ice cream, Richard Farrell would come around and cut off a piece of anatomy. When I ran out of interesting anatomical parts, Richard Farrell would kidnap another kid in the neighborhood, get the kid hooked on heroin, and then start hacking away his body parts.

When I was 3, before he cut my limbs off and put me in the box, Richard Farrell brought me to the Bronx Zoo for answers. He threw me into the bear cage and laughed when I was mauled by the bears. I learned how to speak bear. The bears told me I had cerebral palsy. A loss of oxygen to my brain had destroyed my ability to communicate with other humans. But the bears understood my sensitive nature. They did not take pity on me. I tried pleading with the bears not to maim me. But they knew that Richard Farrell had taken me to the zoo.

My Aunt Helena tried to rescue me from Richard Farrell. She said that she hadn’t seen any relative bleed as frequently as I had. For a time, I was bleeding breweries in blood. The government became interested in my preternatural abilities to generate so much blood. Perhaps if the American population became tired of beer and more open-minded, they might consider my profuse bleeding as an alternative beverage.

Richard Farrell told my Aunt Helena and the government that he had sole legal dominion over my blood supply. He then made himself my Aunt Helena’s dad, and decapitated my Aunt Helena’s head three times, watching it grow back four times over a chilly December.

But back to the box. Ironically, it was easy for Richard Farrell to engage in an uncommon act of discernible love. He mutilated me because he loved me. He tried out eight thousand knives upon my tender young body. All of them were different models. He then asked me to co-author a large book chronicling the history of knives between 1982 and 1993. I agreed to do this because it would mean living out of the box.

My limbs grew back. But Richard Farrell became meaner. I thought he was faking. I reminded him what had happened. And he didn’t believe me. The Richard Farrell left me and boasted about his journalistic conquests.

While Richard Farrell covered Bosnia, I sniffed glue. I became addicted to mescaline, heroin, cocaine, E, meth, and nearly every upper and downer that you could buy in three states. I bought a wheelbarrow at a garage sale for $12 and rolled it around the neighborhood so that people would know how intense my drug habit was. Surprisingly, nobody arrested me. And then I got bored with drugs and became a blogger. Despite the incredible nature of my tales, I have been told that I am a boring person.

Richard Farrell never knew the whole truth. But all that counts is the bottom line. The small happy moments in your life can’t possibly top the intense melodramatic moments that some other author can exploit for greater attention. Living hard is better than writing well. And if you can’t live hard, you may not be a cripple. But you won’t get that book deal.

Edward Champion produced, directed, and starred in the HBO documentary “Boxed Like Me: A Story of Lost Life and Lost Limbs” and is the author of a forthcoming memoir, “A Billion Little Pieces.”

Excerpt from Jose Canseco’s New Book “Bright Lights, Big Baseball Stadium”

You can knock any ball out of the park. But you look at your biceps and you see that they’re lacking. You want muscles, the same way that young teenage girls want personal shoppers. You had a personal shopper once, but she didn’t like it when you ran around Saks Fifth Avenue with your shirt off.

So it’s come to this. Hank and his secret stash. You stop studying your credit card statements. You look at the needle and you stick it in your arm and you feel your muscles expanding. You know that you’re a better baseball player, a better man, and that you can stop anyone’s heartbeat with a single thought.

You’re unstoppable, kid. Who cares if you’re growing older?

Your friends think you’re out of control. But the nice thing about steroids is that you can get new friends. Glitzy people who will nod their head and tell you that your deltoid muscles are the Eighth Wonder of the World. And the locker room groupies arrive more frequently. You feel impotent, but you don’t care. They’re caught in the moment. And besides there’s that penis pump you borrowed from Number 34.

Steroids will cure disease. Steroids are your true compadre. Good thing you can operate as an athlete. Because the last thing you need is some bullshit allegation that you’re not a team player.

The Erotomaniac

Somewhere between Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and Fanny Hill is My Secret Life, an eleven volume, one million word memoir written by “Walter.” The entire text has been placed online and is searchable. Other interesting facts: The books were owned by Aleister Crowley, Harold Lloyd, and Josef von Sternberg. “Walter” was, in all likelihood, Henry Spencer Ashbee, who collected thousands of books in a London bachelor pad and left 1,600 volumes of erotica to the British Museum. On the sex and reading front, Ashbee seems to have found the best of both worlds. From Vol. 9, Chapter XIII:

We used at times to lay in bed reading baudy books. Then I would gamahuche her, and she liked the lingual exercise continued almost directly after her spend. A few minutes’ repose only and I’d fuck her, then we’d go on reading. Sometimes she’d read until suddenly she’d frig herself, laying back, grasping my prick hard with one hand, even hurting it sometimes, with eyes closed, more frequently looking me full in the face eyes wide open, with a wonderful voluptuous expression, till her breath shortened, her lovely thighs and belly quivered, then her eye lids drooped till her body was quite tranquil. � Then with the remark, � “We are beasts,” � our reading was resumed.

Related: Odd Books, “a home for the oddball and offbeat in literature,” which includes pages devoted to Frank Harris (another womanizer whose five-volume MY Life and Loves was published with several photographs), forgotten romantic writer Amanda McKittrick Ros (acclaimed by the likes of Twain, Lawrence, Huxley and Powell) and big-time crank Webster Edgerly, whose strange notions on health may have inspired to T.C. Boyle. Edgerly went by the psuedonym of “Dr. Everett Ralston.” By a twist of fate, today (January 4) is Ralston Day!